CVMA-ACMV

Dandruff in Cats

December 7, 2012

A scaly, scurfy skin will commonly result in an unsightly dandruff sitting in the hair of cats. Dry irritated skin, low humidity, winter indoor environment, sitting on heat registers, soap residues, vitamin, hormone, or fatty acid imbalances, and contact irritation with chemicals and other irritants can all lead to flaking of the skin. Cats with dark colored haircoats show their dandruff the most.

Another cause for dandruff is the so-called “walking dandruff”. This is a mite parasite called Cheyletiella that will set up in the fur at the skin, and looks like dandruff to the unaided eye, but is not! This large mite is light colored and often is most active over the back on the topline of the cat. A low magnifier glass will often provide an opportunity to see the mite, and distinguish it from scales of dandruff. It is thought that these are becoming more prevalent because many of the routine parasite preventive drugs are not effective against this mite, though they clear away other parasites.

If your cat has dandruff, or walking dandruff, a trip to the veterinarian in your area is necessary to help get things back to normal. Some people are allergic to cat dander, rather than hair or saliva, so clearing it up may help friends and family who might be allergy sufferers.

Shampoos, nutritional supplements, parasite treatment or other strategies may be used to help normalize the haircoat of your cat. Though not life-threatening, it is nice not to have to brush off piles of dandruff from your cat, furniture and rugs!